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Day Two

Yesterday I joined the group as a lecturer alongside Martin Gayford. I had one eye on time in view of Tottenham v Fioretina. Signor Roberto as I call Bob Tickler told me to watch out for a silver  haired bouffant type who fancied himself as an Michelangelo expert. “Stef, he warned “… if he gets going you will miss the first half. “

In the morning we went to the church of San Pietro in Montorio  which provides wonderful views over Rome. The opportunity arose to “take him out” as Il Buffante began to pontificate before the painting The Flagellation on Michelangelo’s contro busto style until I pointed out that the Great Man had only had made a chalk sketch and the picture was done by his pupil Sebastiano del Piombo. I was speaking through a microphone to headsets when Roberto next to me could be heard whispering into my speaker “you don’t know as much as you think then.” After this and a trip round the Pantheon the best example of Roman pre-Christian surviving architecture I took Roberto and la Daphne to the Miraballe restaurant on the seventh floor of the Hotel Splendide Royale. This does not just have memorable food but superb views over the Borghese Gardens. La Daphne judged it one ofthe best meals she has ever experienced.

in the evening we had arranged a private tour of the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms. Michelangelo took four years from 1508 when he signed the contract with Pope Julius 11 to complete this. It perhaps best illustrates the complexity of his genius. He dismissed his team and did most of the painting himself standing on a bridge. He was paranoid that the younger Raphael was copying his work. Raphael painted The Tapestries which were hung in 1519 but Michelangelo came back with the Last Judgment and his commission was reaffirmed in 1535, Raphael having died of a fever aged 37. There was controversy about the number and nature of male nudity (the male pudenda have been covered at various times) but you could argue that the final result is the greatest painting of all time. Michelangelo was a difficult  man who fell out easily, normally over money and he downed tools when a further payment of ducats was not honoured  by Pope Julius 11. As a Florentine I’m pleased that the Medicis body snatchers took the corpse of Michelangelo from Rome to lay to rest finally in the Santa Croce Church in Florence.

The room was being used for the recoding by a choir. I assure that money changed hands to arrange this. This led to another row which we won. I was able to guide the group more slowly through the sculpture garden to see Michelangelo’s  Apollo di Belvedere. We did not finish till past 9. This made joining the Viola Club di Roma impossible.  I learned we lost three nil so I made the right call in joining the group for dinner.  There was the normal chaos over reservations and to my amusement but not Roberto il Buffante who was on our  table. He made some comment on cross subsidising before handing over some Euros. Roberto waited until he made this contribution before treating us all which made the pain of the 3-0 defeat easier to bear. Last year we were the better side this year Tottenham are so it was no disgrace and we can concentrate on holding our  Champions League position.



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About Stefano Ursolini

The son of a leading Florentine art dealer, Stefano initially worked in the Uffizi Gallery. He went into journalism and soon became a popular stringer writing on Tuscan wines, art and football. Stefano lives with his partner Umberto in the Santa Croce quarter of Florence. A dedicated supporter of AC Fiorentina his elegant articles on the Viola as well as the Serie A have earned him an appreciative global audience. More Posts